by Graham Adams on Bassett, Brash and Hide

As voters become more aware of the stealthy implementation of a Māori separatist agenda, the political risks for the government will rise sharply.

When the Prime Minister claimed in her first term that her government was going to be “transformational” many voters took her seriously — until it became apparent she was unlikely to transform anything much, whether it was unaffordable housing or inadequate public transport or introducing a capital gains tax.

Perhaps, however, we should have been listening more closely when a year ago — and only a few months into her second term — Ardern referred to “foundational change”.

The change in wording was quickly dismissed as a rebranding exercise dreamed up by Labour Party strategists to distance the government from its failure to be in any way transformational. But foundational change is certainly what we are getting in Ardern’s second term — even if most citizens remain unaware of the steady remaking of the nation’s constitutional arrangements via a radical interpretation of the Treaty as a 50:50 partnership.

When asked by David Seymour in Parliament last February to explain the difference between “transformational” and foundational” change, Ardern airily said she was “referring to a suite of policies — like the introduction of Matariki as a public holiday and the introduction of learning New Zealand history in schools that will make a long-term difference to how we see ourselves as a nation”.

Her response sounded harmless enough and it undoubtedly was designed to sound that way. Ardern certainly wasn’t about to expand on the “suite of policies” her government was stealthily progressing in its push to remake the ship of state while the populace was preoccupied with battening the hatches against the winds of a pandemic.

“Foundational change” based on a particular view of the Treaty clearly wasn’t what most voters signed up for when they voted for Ardern at October 2020’s election. Many thought they were rewarding her with their vote as a thank-you for navigating the nation through the initial round of Covid and encouraging her to continue her good work. As the Prime Minister said repeatedly in the run-up to the election as a justification for not campaigning on much else of substance: “This is the Covid election.”

The aftermath of her landslide victory, however, turned out to be not only about managing Covid but also fulfilling what appears to be the vaulting ambitions of Labour’s Māori caucus and their Cabinet allies such as Andrew Little and David Parker.

Unfortunately for those pushing determinedly but quietly for Māori co-governance to be established in many spheres of New Zealand’s national life — including in the conservation estate, local government, the health and education sectors, water infrastructure, and the Resource Management Act — the headwinds are getting stronger and heavier.

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